The Horrible Horrors of Repatriation

I haven’t been able to sleep for the past few nights, since reading the frightening article on the Expat Wall Street Journal site about repatriation blues. It’s partic awful for me right now, given the ongoing unknowingness that is occurring re Don’s job. When I have slept, it has been in fitful and anxious bouts, interspersed with dreadful dreams about rollerblading through Waitrose (Americans, that’s a high-end grocery store; Australians and others, you’ll know already, yes lah?) in a g-string bikini, with a faded tan and a woefully unkempt Brazilian (wax, not person from Brazil). As I round the corner from household to bakery, I fall over, but no one understands the language I am speaking, calling out that my legs and heart are broken.

It got so bad last night that I literally became delirious through sleep-deprivation. I found myself on the roof terrace, in a state of panic that April’s delivery of Veuve Click was already exhausted. How could that be???!!


The only option I had was to phone cousin Clara the psychologist, and beg for her help to get me out of this wretched head space. I really need my sleep because tomorrow I’m kickin’ it with Charli XCX at her pre-concert meet and greet, and then I want to be 110% grounded in my awesomeness to enjoy her concert in the evening.

So I phoned Clara and I instructed her assistant to tell her that I was v upset, and I might do something stupid. (I just meant I might buy something hideous from Marc Jacobs. Dunno what she thought I meant.)

Within minutes, Clara called me back, bless her : ) Therapists have such good hearts.

I explained to her about what I’d read, and that I’m totes terrified about the repat blues if we have to go back to London soon-ish. And that I’ve run out of Veuve Click.

I was practically in tears, and she must surely have felt my pain, so I was totes blown away when she laid into me!!

Check the diatribe, babeses!:

“Emma-Jane. If you want to know why it is that expats suffer when they return to their home countries, I will tell you. You won’t like what I am going to say though, so I will ask you now, do you really want to know my thoughts on this?”

Because of my desperate state combined with my general intense curiosity about psychological issues, I said, “Um, ya, ok lah.”

“Some people become expats because they are unable to reconcile existential human givens. Givens like the fact that existence might be meaningless and that we are all just tiny fragments in the universe, simultaneously unique and insignificant. They can’t bear their feelings of insignificance, of feeling like nobody, so rather than staying put to reflect on those anxieties and learning how to process them, they run from their fears. They run to the next big adventure, and then the next. It’s as if they think they can escape from themselves or become somebody else, if they only run fast enough to new and different places. And then if they do go back home, there are all the fears and anxieties, right where they left them. And now they’re older, and have a new set of fears, like ageing parents they have to face again; as well as their own ageing, and retirement. So, for someone in that position, repatriation will be a huge loss: a loss of adventure, a loss of expectation. A sudden coming down to earth with a bump.”

“But babes”, I interrupted, feeling quite battered and baffed, “You’re actually totes making it worse! I don’t want to come down to earth with a bump!! Why me?? Why should I have to? I just want to feel better, so that I can sleep better, so that I can hang out with a pop star on Wednesday! Can’t you be a bit more supportive here, and get me through this?! That’s why I called you!”

“EJ, as your cousin, I would like to support you. But you have called me at work, and I too have worries that keep me up at night. Worries about patients, worries about funding cuts, worries about my family. And I am not going to just reassure you in order to maintain your current patterns. Coming down to earth is actually a good thing. It’s an opportunity to finally be still enough to explore the losses, fears and anxieties you have been trying to run from. So if you are coming back, yes, it’ll be hard for the first year or maybe longer. But then it will get easier, and hopefully you’ll find a way to feel at home in yourself.”

She paused.

“Look EJ, I have to go now. I have a patient waiting for me.” We said byes.

To feel at home in myself. Hmmmmm. I decided to contemplate that with a G & T, and as it turned out, the idea really did help. By my fourth glass, I was fast asleep on the roof terrace sofa. I had a lovely dream about living in a house overlooking the ocean. It was only when I woke up drenched that I realised the thunder storm wasn’t just part of my dream. As I got ready for bed, I thought that Clara may be full of sh**, but the house on the ocean did look pretty nice.

Another Dilemna: Which Club to Join?

As well as the dreadful towel dilemna, it is taking me a long time to figure out which club to join. Annoyingly, we don’t get this as part of our package as we did in our last country, so I am really having to grapple with the problem quite aggressively during my free time.

I’ve been to the Tanglin, the British, and the American, and they all have their own pros and cons, as per my lengthy list. The major con with the latter is that we’re not American so we would have to wait for years potentially, and pay a ton.

The British one is lovely and green, but it’s rather far for us, and I didn’t come all this way to meet more Brits. British Expaterati can be so annoying (not the ones I’m friends with, of course! Love you ladies!!). That stereotype of Brits not speaking the local language, and just talking at people really loudly instead is abso completo gospel truth. I do think that lots of (not all!!) British abroad go around expecting special treatment, and believe that we still rule the seas. How ridic. Everyone knows that America does that. Don’t these people read?? Or at least watch CNN at the gym? FGS, I shake my head in despair, I really do.

The Tanglin is also v nice. There’s just this issue of having to be seconded and thirded by a long-standing member, and have dinners there or something, so the process takes months. It’s like becoming a barrister. If we had started as soon as we had arrived we would be ensconced by now, but with every passing day, I just cannot make up my mind.

So we remain, to this day, club-less and virtually towel-less. It’s starting to depress me rather intensely : (. Actually, I’ve been feeling totes emosh all day. And very hot, especially when I’m outside. God, I hope it’s not the menopause come early.

Expat Wife Dilemna: Pool Towels

We have been here a while now, but I still have pool/ beach towels on my to do list. It’s getting pretty embarrassing actually because I’m still showing up to condo pool parties with cartoon towels we got in Costco three years ago. They were only supposed to be for-nowsies!

Everyone else at the parties, all the other expaterati, have lovely Lacoste towels, and I’m so divided on what decision to make. First of all, I’ve looked in all 12 of the Lacoste outlets here and they don’t sell towels (so where are these people getting them from?!), but then I’m also thinking, hey I don’t want to be an expaterati sheep! So I just can’t decide whether to order some from Lacoste anyway and risk the import tax as well as the sheepyness, or to get other ones. It’s been 18 months now that I have been unable to make this decision. Poor Max and Milly, still turning up to social gatherings with Costco towels : (